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Christian Apologetics: A Preeminently Spirit Empowered Task

In part III of Religious Affections, section V, Jonathan Edwards writes with penetrating insight,

“Unless men may come to a reasonable, solid persuasion and conviction of the truth of the gospel, by the internal evidences of it, in the way that has been spoken, viz., by a sight of its glory; it is impossible that those who are illiterate, and unacquainted with history, should have any thorough and effectual conviction of it at all. They may without this, see a great deal of probability of it; it may be reasonable for them to give much credit to what learned men and historians tell them; and they may tell them so much, that it may look very probable and rational to them, that the Christian religion is true; and so much that they would be very unreasonable not to entertain this opinion. But to have a conviction, so clear, and evident, and assuring, as to be sufficient to induce them, with boldness to sell all, confidently and fearlessly to run the venture of the loss of all things, and of enduring the most exquisite and long continued torments, and to trample the world under foot, and count all things but [...]

Dr. James Anderson – Audio and Articles

Dr. James Anderson, Associate Professor of Philosophy and Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary, has made some of his works available for free. He is an exquisite blend of Van Tillian thought and analytical philosophy, and I for one have immensely enjoyed not only his lectures, but his written articles. In this vein, allow me to point out a few for your consideration:

Audio

• Why Universities Can’t Do Without God – A look at why the atheistic worldview cannot account for moral norms and rational thought.

• Can I Trust the Bible over Evolutionary Science – A popular level discussion of faith and science.

• Calvinism and the Origin of Sin – A theologically robust and faithful handling of an admittedly tricky subject.

Articles

• If Knowledge Then God: The Epistemological Theistic Arguments of Plantinga and Van Til – A superb paper summarizing the arguments of each these two apologetic giants.

• The Lord of Non-Contradiction: An Argument for God From Logic (Greg Welty and James Anderson) – A philosophically heavy article, so be warned.

The Logic of Abortion ~ Or Why a Mother Can Kill Her Baby

Mara Clarke of the Abortion Support Network (a pro-abortionist organization) recently debated Scott Klusendorf on the Unbelievable radio show. When pressed as to why it is morally permissible for a pregnant woman to end the life of a human being in her womb, Mara Clarke said,

Mara: “At the end of the day, all I can go with is: women who are living outside of the womb absolutely have a right to- and I don’t say this term- I never say this term- bodily autonomy, right? They have a right to continue with or not continue with a pregnancy.”

Justin (the host of the show): “Ok. So that in a sense overrides any issues of whether we’re dealing with a human in the womb or not for you.”

Mara: “Yes.”

Justin: “The autonomy of a woman over her body trumps that- and that presumably is the distinction then we’re drawing between the toddler and the child in the womb. A toddler is separate to the woman at that point, obviously. There’s not a question of her having control of her body at that point. You’re dealing with a separate individual.”

Mara: “Yeah, we can send [...]

Devoured for Christ- Ignatius to the Romans

There is nearly unanimous agreement that Ignatius was martyred sometime during the reign of Trajan (AD. 98-117). Writing to various churches before his death, his letters emphasize unity and truth. Ignatius is also keen on finishing the race well. He is about to be thrown to the lions, and he wants to reassure the churches that this is all very well.

In his letter to the Romans, he says in one place, “The Work is not a matter of persuasive rhetoric; rather, Christianity is greatest when it is hated by the world.” Soon after penning those words, he speaks of his impending death in this way:

“May I have the pleasure of the wild beasts that have been prepared for me; and I pray that they prove prompt with me. I will even coax them to devour me promptly, not as they have done with some, whom they were too timid to touch. And if when I am willing and ready they are not, I will force them. Bear with me- I know what is best for me. Now at last I am beginning to be a disciple. May nothing visible or invisible envy me, so that I may reach [...]

The Game of Ethics in a Godless World

Picture an aquarium full of only dirt and rocks.

Now imagine that this represents the sum total of reality. There is no mind beyond the walls of that aquarium, no watching eyes, nothing. Life is utterly absent within and without. There is only the stuff of matter.

Now suppose someone were to ask if the aquarium contained morality. Is it in there? If so, where might it be found? Under a rock? Hidden deep in the dirt? Perhaps floating about in the air?

Search as one might, digging here and there, morality would not be found.  It is nowhere.

But now imagine a creature suddenly forming in some mysterious, almost ineffable way. It is a slithering thing, long and inhuman, devoid of consciousness.

Might morality be found in the aquarium now? Nothing has fundamentally changed, save for the creeping creature, and that changes nothing. Morality is still absent.

Picture another scene. Suppose the slithering creature splits into other similar creatures, ones that in turn morph and change into other creatures. Imagine as well plants suddenly sprouting up. Envision rain beginning to fall and entire colonies of scurrying critters forming, ducking into holes and climbing trees.

The aquarium is now teeming with life.

Peering through the glass wall, we [...]

The Irony of Sin

On the night before his meeting with King Xerxes and Esther, Haman, in accordance with the counsel of his friends and wife, had a seventy-five foot tall gallows built exclusively for the neck of Mordecai, the faithful Jew who would not bow the knee in his presence.

Through the cunning of Haman, an edict had already been sent forth, spelling the demise of the Jews. The outlying provinces were to “kill and annihilate all the Jews- young and old, woman and little children- on a single day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, and to plunder their goods” (Esther 3:13 NIV). It was a time of great mourning and weeping and fasting for God’s people. They were going to die.

One can almost picture Haman in his bed, listening to the sound of sawing and hammering, as the immense gallows were being constructed. One can imagine him replaying the image of Mordecai standing alone amid a sea of bent knees, refusing to pay homage to him. He no doubt pictured the obstinate Jew swinging in the noonday light, noose cinched tightly around his neck. He no doubt imagined what he would say before the onlookers, how he [...]

Carl F. H. Henry Center for Theological Understanding (Three Audio Debates)

Here are some theological debates that might be of interest. Each can be found under “Ministries/Trinity Debate” over at the Carl F.H. Henry Center website.

Do Relations of Authority and Submission Exist Eternally Among the Persons of the Godhead?  (Bruce Ware and Wayne Grudem vs. Keith Yandell and Tom McCall) 

This is technical debate that will prove taxing at times. But for those with a taste for the subject, they will probably want to give it a go.

Is Social Justice an Essential Part of the Mission of the Church?  (Jim Wallis vs. Al Mohler)

Unfortunately, the bulk of the debate is fairly repetitive. Since there wasn’t a time of cross examination, both speakers weren’t provided an opportunity to really disagree with one another until the Q&A. There the real differences came out more forcefully, however.

How and When Will All Israel Be Saved? (Douglas Moo, John Feinberg, Mitch Glaser, Willem VanGemeren) 

If you would like to hear a variety of voices interact with Romans 11, with an eye towards answering the above question, this panel discussion will provide just that. It is a little dry, but informative nonetheless.

Part 1
Part 2

 

 

A Lesson From Natural Evil

It’s reported that while attending a divine service on a wintery day, Sir Isaac Newton left in his study a favorite little dog named Diamond. Apparently a candle had been left lit upon his desk, which was situated near a pile of papers containing many years of scientific labor. When Sir Isaac returned home, he found his research reduced to ashes, the candle having been inadvertently knocked over by his little dog.

In one fateful moment, his work was irredeemably lost. When the reality of the situation hit him, Sir Isaac turned to his beloved dog and exclaimed, “Oh, Diamond, Diamond, little do you know the mischief you have caused me!”

For Diamond, it was impossible for him to grasp the magnitude of the loss. In many ways, we are like that dog. Sin is infinitely offensive, and because of our smallness, and our callused hearts, we fail to grasp its seriousness. But on the other hand, our Master has not left us without some very definite knowledge of sin’s potency. Instead of saying, “Oh, Adam, Adam, little do you know the mischief you have caused me,” God declared, “Cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of [...]

Of Angels and Men

The question of Satan’s fall into sin has been an issue of considerable intrigue throughout the centuries. Theologians have burnt oil long into the night pondering the subject, trying to thread together the various strands of biblical data.

Here recently, I self-published a book on the subject. A fresh theory is presented and defended in detail. The book is entitled, Satan’s Awful Idea: A Biblical Theology of Satan’s Fall and Its Implications on the Unfolding Human Drama. If you’re willing to download the book as a PDF file, you can get it for free here: Satan’s Awful Idea PDF Version. Otherwise, it is available at Amazon.

As with any work of theology, questions and challenges will naturally arise. Mine is no different. One such question that has surfaced inquires into the relationship between the thinking of angels and men. In a recent interview with Barry York and Jared Olivetti (Podcast link) this came up. Another fine gentleman pursued the same issue in another context.

Since the theory I develop in the book hinges on angels, as rational creatures, closely resembling humans in their thinking, it could be asked why or upon what basis should this be the case? Why think that angels think [...]

A Good Bit From C.S. Lewis

Taken from Mere Christianity, chapter 9, Counting the Cost:

“That is why we must not be surprised if we are in for a rough time. When a man turns to Christ and
seems to be getting on pretty well (in the sense that some of his bad habits are now corrected), he
often feels that it would now be natural if things went fairly smoothly. When troubles come
along—illnesses, money troubles, new kinds of temptation—he is disappointed.

These things, he feels, might have been necessary to rouse him and make him repent in his bad old
days; but why now? Because God is forcing him on, or up, to a higher level: putting him into
situations where he will have to be very much braver, or more patient, or more loving, than he ever
dreamed of being before. It seems to us all unnecessary: but that is because we have not yet had the
slightest notion of the tremendous thing He means to make of us.

I find I must borrow yet another parable from George MacDonald. Imagine yourself as a living house.
God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is
getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the [...]